Do you know the facts? 4 steps to deploying a customer focussed measurement system

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A few weeks ago, I introduced my perspective on the significance of a customer experience framework and how it can help an organisation to focus its customer experience efforts (

The framework I personally deploy when working with an organisation has three core components – STRATEGY (or proposition); MEASUREMENT (or facts); and PEOPLE (or engagement and advocacy). In this blog post I want to expand on the importance of the MEASUREMENT component, and how you can go about arming your business with THE FACTS it needs to become truly customer focussed.

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Firstly, let me just clarify why understanding the facts is so fundamental to any organisation that aspires to have a customer focus. All businesses, large or small, B2B or B2C, possess a huge amount of data. Businesses use this data to produce report after report and KPI after KPI. Senior leaders use these reports and KPIs to run their businesses. They will use them to determine the performance of their staff. They will use them to determine the performance of the business strategy. From my experience, much of the time, the reports and KPIs that are produced in great number are generally missing something quite vital – any link to the customer!

To test this statement, and what I am saying I have experienced, let me ask you three important questions:

  1. Is ‘customer’ on the agenda of your regular business meetings (from board level down)?
  2. Is a customer metric(s) included in your performance management process and/or incentive programme?
  3. Are the metrics used to measure business performance related to anything the customer would deem important?

If you have been able to answer yes to these questions, you are definitely in good shape when it comes to deploying what I would describe as a customer focussed measurement system. If you cannot answer yes, or know of organisations that cannot, you will understand what I am referring to when I describe organisations who make decisions ‘without having all the facts’.

Organisations who do not know all the facts, or who have the ‘customer piece of the jigsaw’ missing, are taking a big risk. They will be reacting to issues not fully understanding what the cause of the problem is. They will be making judgements as to what customers want and need. They will potentially be investing money and resources in products and processes that are not significant to their customer. It is not a surprise that the organisations that usually tend to fail are the ones who have not understood what it is they need to do to continuously meet their customers’ needs.

Implementing a customer focussed measurement system as part of a customer experience framework will complete the often missing piece of the jigsaw. It will provide invaluable insight and understanding into what it is the business needs to focus on to improve customer perception. So how do you do it? Let me talk you through the four steps to deploying a customer focussed measurement system.


Before you are able to implement the right customer focussed measures, you must first understand what it is you are measuring! It has become very fashionable over the last two to three years for companies to create customer journey maps. Visualising and understanding the customer journey is a very important step in any customer experience framework. Understanding the journey and the key touch points or ‘moments of truth’ within it allows you to understand what it is that needs to be measured. Customer journeys can be very simple and very complicated. I always advocate the ‘keeping it simple’ method. Here are two high level examples of ‘getting started’:

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Once you understand the key ‘stages’ of your journey, you can then drill down to the next level – identifying the touch points or moments of truth. Once you have done this, you are ready to move to step 2.


Understanding your customer journey and the key touch points within it, enables you to start contemplating how able you are to measure the effectiveness of it. Going back to what I described earlier on the subject of KPIs, how many existing KPIs in your business relate to the customer journey and the interactions customers have throughout it? Without needing to know the answer, I can confidently assume that many of you reading this will not be able to answer this question positively. Implementing a customer focussed measurement system is not just about understanding customer perception. Your customer journey will deliver a CAUSE and EFFECT relationship. Your ability, or not as the case may be, to do what you are supposed to do at every customer interaction will be the CAUSE that will determine customer perception of that interaction. Customer perception is the CAUSE. Understanding how capable you are at doing hat you are supposed to do will enable you to a) determine how far away from ‘perfection’ your customer journey is, and b) act as a predictor of customer perception. If your capability drops this month, you will almost certainly be able to predict that customer perception will also drop the following month.

I strongly advocate the introduction of a customer focussed index that acts as your internal customer metric. The index known as the OMI or ‘operational measures index’ allows you to measure the gap between current state and perfection – perfection is defined as the level that you aspire to get each customer touch point to. If the OMI were to be 100%, all touch points would be as perfect as you aspire them to be. Below is an example of how an OMI dashboard might look for a vehicle rental business (number of journey stages and metrics is dependant on the business):

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Understanding customer perception is a step in deploying a measurement system that most people are relatively comfortable with – and as such, one I will not dwell on too much. Many organisations have customer feedback mechanisms in place. Whether they be driven by Customer Satisfaction (CSat), or Net Promoter Score (NPS), it is obviously essential to understand what your customer actually thinks about your relationship with them. It is important that you do measure the relationship as well as individual transactions. Aligning your internal metrics (step 2) with customer perception will allow you to have a clear understanding of what may be causing the problem. At the end of the day, one of the key objectives of any customer experience programme must be to identify what your priorities are to improve customer perception, which in turn will lead to greater loyalty, revenue and profit.


This all leads to the fourth step – and perhaps the most important. A customer focussed measurement system as I have described, will give your organisation invaluable insight. This insight will enable your business to clearly understand what it needs to do to better meet customer expectation. Embedding a continuous improvement programme to address the ‘priorities’ for improvement from a customer perspective will ensure that the insight you are capturing will provide the focus your business needs. Most pieces of work to improve a business should sit in one of two camps:

1. Keeping the lights on (infrastructure, technology etc..)

2. Improving the customer journey

If your business is focussing resource and investment anywhere else, it should question why. Continuous improvement in your customer journey is what will ensure the sustainability of your business. If you keep measuring the right thing, and addressing the priorities that come out of your measurement system, you will be constantly adjusting to the changing needs of your customers

So – 4 steps to deploying a customer focussed measurement system. It all starts and ends with the customer journey – just as your customer would like it to!! As always, your comments on any part of this blog post are most welcome.

Trust – the embodiment of customer experience


Trust – a small word that means so much. It is a word that plays an enormous part in all our lives. A word that epitomises our start in life – from the minute we enter in to the world, we immediately have complete trust in the people who care for us. As we grow up we learn to trust in a wider sphere of people – our families and friends, as well as respected figures in our communities such as doctors, teachers and religious leaders. We learn to trust in the things people tell us – in opinions and perspectives. We start to trust organisations that we interact with. The majority of us are fortunate to be brought up in way that we understand what trust means. For all these reasons, it is 100% clear to me why I believe that trust is the embodiment of customer experience. We grow to inherently believe it exists, and as such expect it to be present when we experience the things we do.

The fact that I am writing this blog post regrettably is a reflection of the fact that the very thing we instinctively have when we are brought in to the world, is continually being eroded away by the attitudes and behaviours of our modern society. When it comes to the world of customer experience, it would be fair to say that the consumer no longer knows who to trust. Let me ask you a few random questions:

  1. Do you trust your bank to treat you fairly?
  2. Do you trust your clothing retailer to sell you clothes that are made ethically?
  3. Do you trust your food retailer to sell you food that is exactly as it states on the packaging?
  4. Do you trust your mechanic to give you a fair price for repairing your car?
  5. Do you trust your newspaper to tell you the truth?
  6. Do you trust your online shopping to arrive at the time you expect?
  7. Do you trust your local council to do what is best?
  8. Do you trust your government to do what is right?
  9. Do you trust anyone who comes to your door in order to sell you something?
  10. Do you trust the companies you transact with to put you, the customer, first?

In times gone by, we may well have been able to answer ‘yes’ to many (if not all) of these questions. It is a sad fact that we may well now answer ‘no’ to the majority of them. The Oxford English Dictionary defines trust as:

“The firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something”

Are we able to apply this definition to the companies with which we have experiences? It is very difficult today to talk about business that we absolutely trust to do the right thing. Many are trying. One of the UK’s largest food retailers, Morrisons, is attempting to get its customers to trust it to sell good quality meat that comes from reliable British sources. Whilst we still feel the effects of the horsemeat scandal, their campaign may well help the consumer to get a little confidence back.

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British banks have a lot more work to do in order to get the consumer to trust them again. This week alone, the leaders of one of our failed banks has offered to return his Knighthood in recognition of the banks ails. For so long the consumer has been taken for granted – it will take a very long time before we trust the financial services sector again.

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Every industry is affected by trust. Just today, four Japanese car makers have recalled 3.4 million cars over a defect in passenger airbags ( The culture that created the most robust process methodologies the world has ever seen, are also now in the firing line.

Failing to deliver an experience that can be trusted can have far greater consequences today than in years gone by. The best example of this is the now world famous ‘United Breaks Guitars’ story, and Dave Carroll’s mission to expose that lack of care and respect United Airlines gave him as a customer. As of today, the video he posted on YouTube about his experience has been viewed almost 13 million times. The damage to United Airlines is probably immeasurable (

Whilst my words have focussed very much on the lack of trust, we should start to focus on how to earn it – and in a lot of cases, how to get it back. I believe that it is possible to create the ‘trust equation’ for organisations to align to.

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The equation looks at four things:

  1. Honesty
  2. Reliability
  3. Consistency
  4. Care

Let us have a quick look at these in turn. Honesty – consumers just want organisations to be honest. Just tell me the truth. Do what you say you are going to do. Do not try and hide anything. Consumers also expect that organisations will not get things right 100% of the time – so just be honest with me when you get it wrong, and address the issue. How many businesses that you deal with are honest?

Reliability – we all want the businesses we deal with to be reliable. We want to know that things will work as they should. I wanted to buy a specific clothing item from a small independent retailer the afternoon before I was due to go on holiday. I arrived at the shop to find it closed. It was 4:15pm. On the door, in big letters it stated that the shop closed at 5:00pm every day. Reliable? Not only did the retailer miss out on that purchase, they will not be given the opportunity to get another.

Consistency – this is vital in delivering an experience that the consumer will trust. If you are able to deliver a consistent experience, your consumer will be far more likely to keep coming back. The bigger the brand, the harder this is to do. Premier Inn is a hotel brand that is starting to excel in the consistency arena. Every Premier Inn is the same – it looks, feels and behaves the same. By contrast, Holiday Inn, a brand that I am a fan of, delivers inconsistent experiences depending on the hotel. I have stayed a lot in their Hotel near Darlington – it is very consistent and a pleasure. Their hotel in Walsall was a shambles. I expect the same every time I stay in a Holiday Inn.

Care – this is the final but of the trust equation. If you are able to achieve the first three elements, you are in great shape. But it is possible to be honest, reliable and consistent without caring. As a consumer, I want to know that the company I deal with cares about me. They recognise the importance of me as a customer. If not, it is unlikely that I will build an emotional connection with that company. If that does not happen, the likelihood of me recalling my experiences is minimal. One could argue that Ryanair are a brand that sums this up. They are very honest in what they do. They are very reliable (the most in their industry) and consistent. But do they care?

I believe that Trust is the embodiment of customer experience. I believe that if organisations do not embrace Trust, and work hard to ensure that they deliver experiences that can be trusted; they will fail to be able to attract and keep the customers they exist to serve. Companies that we can trust will be the real winners as our fast changing world powers on.

‘Got a problem? Get Tweeting!’ – the story of a fresh cream eclair without the cream!!

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I am sure that the first thing that captured your attention when you saw this picture was my beautiful, almost 10-year-old, daughter Ciara. The second thing you will have noticed is the ‘choux’ pastry she is holding in front other face. Ciara is holding up the remains of a fresh cream chocolate éclair from Waitrose. Can you see what is missing? It took two huge bites into the delectable desert before Ciara noticed that this particular fresh cream éclair was not!! It was an éclair without the cream. The amusing thing is that Ciara specifically asked for that one – seeing it as the biggest and best with the most chocolate. As you can imagine, she was ever so slightly disappointed to find that this particular éclair was in fact a fraud!

So what has this little Golding family story got to do with a customer experience blog on the subject of social media? Over the last few months, I have taken to contacting companies I interact with via that particular social network. I am a consumer who has little time for picking up the phone to contact an organisation. I do not have the patience to scrabble around trying to find the phone number for a start. Contacting an organisation via twitter is so quick and simple, I thought I would use that method to sort out ‘éclair gate’!

I sent my first tweet at 6:49pm on the 13th April:

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At 7:19pm, I received a response – bear in mind this is 7:19pm on a Saturday night:

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Brilliant. Within an hour of the event occurring, I had an acknowledgement, apology and resolution. Yes, I did have to send some information on the packaging and store of purchase, but fundamentally, my problem had been resolved as quickly, effortlessly and effectively as I or any other consumer could wish for.

This is not the only time I have used Twitter to express dissatisfaction. My next story started with me tweeting about a poor experience without the expectation of receiving a response. I was staying at the Holiday Inn in Walsall. The service in the restaurant was shockingly bad – so much so that I felt the need to tell the world about it:

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IHG who own the holiday Inn brand are constantly monitoring social media channels for comments being made about all of their brands. They picked up my tweet and got straight on the case – although at this stage, I was completely unaware they were doing so. When I returned to my room after dinner, the phone rang. I rarely get a call on the hotel phone, and so was slightly surprised. It was the restaurant manager on the other end of the line. He informed me that he had been contacted by IHG, and had been asked to get in touch with me to capture my feedback.

It is feasible that some people would not be happy with this approach – a touch of the ‘big brothers’ watching over us. I did not intentionally reach out to IHG or Holiday Inn – I did not add their twitter id’s to my tweet. However I personally thought this was very impressive. I described my concerns to the restaurant manager – they were all staff related. He was completely unaware of the issues as he had been spending all of his time in the kitchen. It was clear that the restaurant manager was very grateful for my feedback. I can confidently state that the service in the restaurant at breakfast (served by the same staff), was a different class to the night before!

Shortly after my telephone conversation, I received a tweet from IHG advising me of what they had done. I responded accordingly:

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Twitter is without question a very effective way of communicating with organisations. It has become my contact method of choice. However, there is a very long way to go before it overtakes traditional channels for issue resolution. Many consumers still do not understand Twitter. They believe that Twitter is all about celebrities telling us what they had for dinner! Many people do not want to sign up to it as ‘why would anyone be interested in the things I have to say?’. Do not worry about any of those things! You do not have to use Twitter to communicate anything if you do not want to. As a consumer, Twitter is a valuable way of listening, and to get listened to should you so wish. Most of the major brands in the UK are now on Twitter, sending marketing messages and addressing customer service queries on a daily basis. What my two stories highlight is that when it is done well, it can be very very good.

However, not all of my experiences have been positive. I want to set up a business account with Hertz – the vehicle rental business. I went to their website to start the process, but could not fathom how to do it. So I emailed them – on the 8th April. If you can believe it, no-one ever responded to that email. On the 11th April, doubting I would get a response, I decided to tweet them:

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Just over an hour to get a response. Not bad – my faith in Twitter as the method to communicate was maintained. They did DM (direct message) me as promised. This is an extract of the conversation:

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Not great. I was eventually given the email address and contact number of a person I needed to contact – not someone who would contact me – the effort was all mine. Twitter had at least sent me to the right person, but I was not that much closer to a resolution. It is now the 18th April, and I am still no closer to a resolution (although that is a more detailed story!).

From my personal experiences as a consumer, Twitter is a brilliant way to reach out to the organisations you interact with. From a customer experience perspective, Twitter is a brilliant way of addressing the concerns of your customers quickly and efficiently. If your business is not ‘working Twitter’ like Waitrose and IHG, I strongly urge you to do so. If you are, I urge you to educate customers about the benefits of using social media channels like Twitter to communicate with you. If you are a consumer who has had a problem with an organisation, I urge you to try it out for yourself!

What experiences have you had in using Twitter to get resolution to problems? I would love to hear about your own personal stories.

‘Its simple – I just give my customers what they need and they keep coming back!’

In February 2012, I delivered a presentation to the University of Lancaster Management School. The session focussed on why putting
the customer at the heart of business strategy is evolving the Retail Industry around the globe. Essentially, it sums up my perception of what is going on in the high street. The audience was made of Lancaster’s MBA students who hail from all over the world.

‘To be a CXP or not to be a CXP…..that is the question!’

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This blog post is an article I have written for the April edition of the Customer Experience Magazine – you can read the article via this link as well as some other great content –

Whenever I am asked the question – ‘what do you do then?’ – I always describe myself as a CXP – a Customer Experience Professional. I have been doing this for the last few years. As someone who has had a career steeped in the world of acronyms (I am also an MBB – or Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt), it seems to make perfect sense.

According to Wikipedia, a ‘professional’ is ‘a person who is engaged in a certain activity, or occupation, for gain or compensation as means of livelihood; such as a permanent career, not as an amateur or pastime’ That confirms it then – I can legitimately call myself a CXP.

Calling myself a CXP is further supported by the fact that an association, focussed solely on developing professionals working in the field of customer experience management, was created a couple of years ago. The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) provides its members – individuals looking to make their mark on the profession, and companies that are leaders in their industries – with valuable professional development and networking opportunities. Members collaborate to establish best practices and promote a better appreciation of the discipline of customer experience to both consumers (B2C) and to business (B2B) customers.

CXPA Founders, Bruce Temkin and Jeanne Bliss

All sounds great…….doesn’t it? Or does it? There is absolutely no doubt that in the last five years, organisations all around the world have started to change the way they treat their customers. Businesses who previously took customers for granted are now starting to re-consider whether or not their existing strategies are appropriate. Many businesses never had a strategy that incorporated ‘customer’ anywhere in it – business is all about lining our own pockets isn’t it?

Supported by the global economic downturn, as businesses have started to incorporate the customer into their strategies, they have also started to recruit people with a ‘customer experience’ remit. Ten years ago, the CCO (or Chief Customer Officer) did not exist. Today, more and more CCO’s are appearing on the scene. Customer Experience Directors; Heads of Customer Experience; Customer Experience Transformists; Customer Experience Futurologists; are all job titles that have started to become commonplace.

So why is it that I am still not sure if the CXP really exists? Why is it that I find more people who have no idea what ‘customer experience’ actually is, than those who do? Why is it that I still come across many companies who think that ‘customer experience management’ is not a unique role, but the collective responsibility of everyone in the organisation?

As someone who considers to be a CXP (as per the Wikipedia definition!), there are positive and negative answers to all of those questions. Organisational understanding of the customer experience as a discipline is still in its fledgling state. It may seem obvious to people who ‘get’ customer, but many still do not. This is why (in my opinion) the CXP has been born. This is why more and more CXPs are being created on a regular basis. This is why groups such as the CXPA are so vital to the development of a new industry.

In an ever-changing technological world, consumer and customer behaviour changes quicker than ever before. As a six sigma practitioner, I always had to explain to businesses the importance of continuous improvement – what the customer wants today will be different tomorrow. That has always been the case – the difference is that what the customers wants now will be different in two minutes time!!

Improving the customer experience has become a specialist discipline – it combines strategic marketing skills, with analytical measurement techniques, with journey and process mapping, and people engagement methods. All of this is supplemented by an unerring enthusiasm and passion to do what is right for the customer. It is an exciting discipline that seeks to find the truth, and then address it in a way that prioritises and delivers maximum benefit to the customer, the employee and the shareholder. It is a discipline that is not as easy to apply as I may be making it sound – delivering the harsh reality of customer perception is not what every Board member wants to hear – especially if they perceive themselves to be the cause of the problem!!

So as you sit reading this article, what do you think? Does the CXP exist? I think it does – well over two thousand members of the CXPA spread all over the globe can testify to that. BUT…..there is always a but – it is still very early days for one of the newest professions on the block. It is vital that as the community of CXPs grows, they collaborate together, learning from each others experiences, and building the specialist skill set. The CXPA is developing an accreditation programme for the profession as we speak – yet another step in a very positive direction. Working together, it will not be long before the letters ‘CXP’ after your name are seen in the same light as ‘ACCA’ or ‘LLB’.

This article was written for the April edition of Customer Experience Magazine –